My toddler son sits screaming outside the bathroom door. I have stepped away for less than a minute to take a deep breath. It was a really hard day. Actually, it’s been a hard year.
There is a book I read recently that will forever remind me of this season of life. The title is “God on Mute” and as soon as I saw it in the library, I knew I was supposed to read it.
It is no secret that for the last 10 months I have prayed for help and hope. Being a single mom is the hardest thing I have ever done. It feels like every aspect of my life is filled with struggle; faith, finances, emotions, parenting, health. All parts of life feel hard right now.
I desperately wanted reconciliation for my marriage. I just knew God would want a marriage restored instead of destroyed. I just knew if I prayed hard enough and was patient enough, that in His time he would restore it.
God did not answer my prayers.
My prayers for restoration and redemption went unanswered. Month after month, nothing changed. I could only fight for so long on my own for the marriage that hadn’t existed for almost a year.
So 4 days ago I signed the papers. I continued to make it clear that this was not what I believed in. This was not what I felt was right. But I was no longer being given a choice.
I had to let go. Through the confusion and heartache and doubt, I knew this was the hardest thing God was asking me to do: to trust Him even when I couldn’t see his plan. God asked me to trust Him in the unknown and the fear and through my broken heart.
The book, God on Mute, gives a variety of reasons why prayers go unanswered. Maybe there is something better planned. Maybe human free will gets in the way. Maybe God wants us closer to him before he reveals the answer.
Maybe we will never get the answer we want, but we always get something better.
Because if we choose, we get God. It has taken me 30 years to realize this is the best possible gift I can receive.
God is the best gift of all because He is he best thing of all: love. I always knew God was love. But now I truly know it and feel it, even in the valley of the broken-hearted.
Even through grieving, I see His love. I see it most in my son. But I also see it in myself. I see his love in the community He has surrounded me with. I see it in my broken and failed marriage. I see it in the friends and family that continue to answer the phone calls and texts of me sobbing and having pity parties for myself.
His love is in every big thing and every little thing. And his love is most definitely in unanswered prayers. The problem is that sometimes we are so blinded with hurt and anger, we can’t see the love. Sometimes we are so bitter that we can’t see the beauty through the ashes.
There was a quote I read recently that reminded me of my season of hard life thjngs. It says:
“You either get BITTER or you get BETTER. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. THE CHOICE does not belong to fate, it BELONGS TO YOU.” – Josh Shipp
As soon as I read this quote, it brought immediate relief. Don’t get me wrong, tonight as I wondered how I can continue to do the hard things on my own like take care of a toddler, pay bills without any money, take care of 2 dogs, myself, work, keep up with my house and on and on, there is bitterness within me. Because sometimes I truly don’t understand why what happened had to happen. And the bitterness tries to seep in. But I am fighting against it. Because I know I have a choice.
My prayers may have gone unanswered for my marriage. But I’m trusting there’s a purpose greater than anything I can understand right now. And as I trust I am making the choice to choose better instead of bitter.
I only get one life. My son only gets one mom. I want him to understand that life is hard. But life is also beautiful, even in the middle of the hard. And he needs to know that pity parties and doubt and anger are okay and necessary; they just shouldn’t last forever.
Most importantly I want him to know that faith is what will sustain him. Even when he doubts, even when his prayers go unanswered, even when he has had the hardest of hard days, God is still here. Prayers may go unanswered, but God doesn’t ever leave.
This hard day is finally almost over. But tomorrow I will wake up and have to do all the hard things again. But I get to choose my perspective. And my choice is to take this unanswered prayer, and still choose God. My choice is faith and strength and hope, even when life just sucks sometimes.